Author: Radio News Hub

Clinically extremely vulnerable given same priority as over 70s on vaccine list
People at very high risk from coronavirus, who were made to shield during the pandemic, have been given the same priority as the over 70s in the queue to receive a vaccine.
The provisional vaccine priority list published by Public Health England has placed people aged 18 or older who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable in the same priority group as those aged 70 and over.

It means people with conditions such as blood, bone or lung cancer, chronic kidney disease and Down’s Syndrome have been placed in priority group four of nine.

Gemma Peters, chief executive of charity Blood Cancer UK, said: “This is extremely good news.

“Putting people with blood cancer at the same priority level as those aged over 70 better reflects the fact that they are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.”

She added: “Any vaccine might not work as well in people with blood cancer, so vaccinating the people around them is a vital part of protecting them.

“We are very grateful to the Government for having listened to the voices of people with blood cancer and other health conditions on this.

“It is also important to remember that this is not definitely the final priority list.

“No vaccines have been approved yet, and we’re waiting for confirmation that any vaccine will be safe and effective for people with blood cancer.”

The updated list, which is subject to Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval of vaccine supply, also lists the conditions that fall in priority group six for at-risk adults aged 18 to 65.

These include diabetes, chronic heart disease and morbid obesity.

The interim guidance, advised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says the order of priority should be:

1. Older adults in a care home and care home workers

2. All those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers

3. All those 75 years of age and over

4. All those 70 years of age and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age

5. All those 65 years of age and over

6. Adults aged 18 to 65 years in an at-risk group

7. All those aged 60 and over

8. All those 55 and over

9. All those aged 50 and over

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

University lowers entry requirements to ‘relieve pressure’ on students
The University of Surrey will reduce its entry requirements by one grade for most undergraduate courses starting next year in recognition of the disruption to education caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grade requirements will be lowered to help “relieve the pressure and anxiety” faced by young people who will have seen their learning affected by the pandemic across two academic years.

Entry grades will be reduced by one grade for the majority of undergraduate programmes starting in September 2021, except for regulated courses such as Veterinary Medicine, foundation year courses, four-year integrated masters programmes and audition-based performance courses.

Lizzie Burrows, director of recruitment and admissions at the University of Surrey, said: “We are taking this action now to relieve the pressure and anxiety facing this year’s applicants, as they experience ongoing disruption and uncertainty surrounding exams and assessment of their learning.

“By taking this step, we can provide one additional element of certainty and reassurance that these students will be protected from unfair disadvantage as a result of the impact of the pandemic.”

Earlier this month, the University of Birmingham also revealed it planned to reduce entry requirements for 2021 by one grade in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on A-level students.

Education minister Nick Gibb said in the House of Commons last week that the Government was working to ensure that 2021 exams are “fair” and more details will be published “shortly”.

Experts have said that GCSE and A-level exams should be replaced with teacher assessments next year amid coronavirus disruption.

The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent Sage), chaired by former Government chief scientific adviser Sir David King, is calling for all primary school tests to be cancelled and for secondary school exams to be replaced with assessments by teachers with suitable moderation.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Vulnerable groups to be offered free vitamin D deliveries
More than 2.5 million at-risk people in England will be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the Government, officials have said.
Care homes in England will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday.

People on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will be offered the chance to opt in for a supply to their homes in a letter.

The free deliveries will start in January, providing four months worth of vitamin D to up to 2.7 million people.

Public Health England (PHE) advises everyone to take 10 microgrammes of vitamin D per day between October and early March, particularly the elderly, people who do not go outside and those with dark skin.

Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because, from about late March to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, but between October and early March people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Additionally, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures, many may have a higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Because of the incredible sacrifices made by the British people to control the virus, many of us have spent more time indoors this year and could be deficient in vitamin D.

“The Government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free supply to last them through the darker winter months.

“This will support their general health, keep their bones and muscles healthy and crucially reduce the pressure on our NHS.”

Anyone who can purchase vitamin D supplements is advised to start taking them now, even if eligible for a delivery next year.

Research is ongoing to investigate the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 protection, including a project at Queen Mary University investigating if correcting people’s vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.

Mr Hancock has asked PHE and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to re-review existing evidence on the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 “to ensure we explore every potential opportunity to beat this virus”.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Health experts fear rapid tests may distract from vaccine work
Ambitious rapid coronavirus testing plans for England threaten to become a distraction from other key goals such as the roll-out of a vaccine, prominent health officials have warned.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised the fast mass community testing systems conducted in Liverpool – which gave results in around 20 minutes without the need for a laboratory – will be replicated in all tier three areas after lockdown ends. This covers areas with a combined population of some 23 million people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Liverpool – where 300,000 people have been tested in the pilot scheme – had shown how effective the measure can be.

Mr Johnson signalled on Thursday that mass community testing was the way out of Tier 3 restrictions, saying it involved “everybody working together to kick Covid out”.

But the Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said in a joint statement this would be a massive undertaking that would stretch the country’s resources in the fight against Covid-19 such that other priorities may be compromised.

“Firstly, substantial resources – human and financial – are needed to deliver lateral flow testing at scale,” the two bodies said.

“The additional logistical capacity provided to Liverpool to set up and manage testing sites alone has been enormous, and it is difficult to envisage how or even whether this could be replicated at the pace being proposed across the country.

“This threatens to be a distraction from other activities, like planning and rolling out vaccines.”

The statement added: “There is an enormous price tag attached to this programme, and the resources and capacity needed come at a time of overwhelming and competing priorities, including making sure all those who are symptomatic get tested and self-isolate to planning and rolling out vaccines.”

The two groups said that in terms of current testing measures, making the NHS’s Test and Trace systems more effective must remain the top focus.

“Improving the existing Test and Trace Service so that people who have symptoms are rapidly tested and supported to self-isolate, and their contacts reached, must remain the top focus in relation to testing,” they said.

“A high performing Test and Trace Service needs to move fast, be led by local intelligence, and prioritise those groups and settings where Covid-19 can either spread quickly and/or harm the most vulnerable.”

The statement added: “The key priority needs to be targeted community testing … in settings or locations of higher risk of transmission or where the consequence of infection is higher.”

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

All hospitals in England could be overwhelmed without new tiers, minister warns
Every hospital in England could be overwhelmed with coronavirus cases if new tier restrictions are not introduced, Michael Gove has warned, as he seeks to quell a Tory backbench rebellion over the measures.
The Cabinet Office Minister, writing in The Times, urged MPs to “take responsibility for difficult decisions” to curb the spread of Covid-19, amid anger from some Conservatives that much of England will face stringent restrictions.

Mr Gove said the decision to impose the restrictions was necessary to “pull the handbrake” and avoid the “disaster” of NHS hospitals – and private sector and newly-built Nightingale hospitals – becoming filled to capacity with only Covid patients and emergency cases.

“Keeping our hospitals open, available and effective was not just crucial to dealing with Covid-19. It was imperative for the health of the whole nation,” Mr Gove wrote.

“But the only way to ensure we can take care of cancer patients, administer radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and help stroke victims and treat heart attacks is by protecting the NHS,” he wrote, adding this could only be done by reducing the spread of the virus and thus limiting the number of Covid patients in hospitals.

“And just as we want to reduce Covid-19 infections to save lives, so reducing them is the key to saving the economy. Think for a moment what would happen to our economy if we allowed infections to reach such a level that our NHS was overwhelmed,” Mr Gove wrote.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall, and the Isles of Scilly will be under the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.

In total, 99% of England will enter Tier 2 or 3, with tight restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on households mixing indoors when the four-week national lockdown lifts on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a Commons showdown with his own MPs when they vote on the measures next week, which could leave him dependent on Labour support to get them approved.

The chairman of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, was among critics of the restrictions, accusing the Government of infringing people’s “fundamental human rights”.

Mr Johnson acknowledged on Friday that people felt “frustrated”, particularly in areas with low infection rates which now face tighter restrictions than before the lockdown.

It comes as the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 in four NHS regions of England reached higher totals this month than during the first peak, with figures in both the South West and North East and Yorkshire still above those seen in the spring.

Latest data from the Government’s coronavirus dashboard show there were 938 Covid-19 patients in hospital in the South West as of Thursday, down slightly from a high of 968 on Tuesday but higher than the spring peak of 840 on April 14.

Hospitals in the North East and Yorkshire saw a high of 3,400 Covid-19 patients on November 16, which had fallen to 2,925 as of Thursday but is still higher than the peak in spring of 2,567 on April 9.

Both the Midlands and North West also saw totals this month surpass the first wave peak, with 3,150 reported on Monday compared with 3,101 on April 10 in the former and 3,059 on November 16 compared with 2,890 on April 13 in the latter. The figures in both regions have since fallen back below spring peak levels.

Meanwhile, it emerged that scientists advising the Government said that any relaxation of restrictions over Christmas will result in a “large” rise in coronavirus transmission rates and prevalence “could easily double”.

In a set of documents released on Friday, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said “substantial mixing” of people over a short period of time represents a “significant risk for widespread transmission”.

The scientists made their warning in a meeting on November 18 – a few days before the Government announced that there would be a limited relaxation of restrictions at Christmas.

They said: “The prevalence could easily double during a few days of the festive season, with further multiplicative increases as new infections go back to their ‘routine’ networks.”

Mr Johnson confirmed earlier this week that three households will be able to mix from December 23 to 27, but he told families they must make a “personal judgment” about the risks to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.

In other developments:

– The infection rate in the UK appears to be slowing, with the latest R number thought to be between 0.9 and 1.

– The Government said a further 521 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Friday, and there were a further 16,022 lab-confirmed cases.

– A provisional vaccine priority list published by Public Health England gives people who were made to shield during the pandemic the same priority as the over 70s to receive a jab.

– The Government appointed Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy as a Christmas travel tsar in a bid to avoid transport chaos during the festive period.

– Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, the Arcadia Group, is on the brink of collapse, with about 15,000 jobs at risk.

– The Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said improving the test and trace system must remain the Government’s priority in relation to testing, and said “we must be up front” about what is not yet known about rapid tests.

Elsewhere, The Guardian reported that hospitals in England have been told to prepare for the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine in as soon as 10 days.

According to the paper, hospitals could receive the first deliveries of a vaccine created by Pfizer/BioNTech between December 7 and December 9.

This vaccine, which reported early results suggesting the jab is 95% effective, needs to be stored at extremely low temperatures.

Published: 28/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

PM facing rebellion as majority set for tough post-lockdown restrictions
The decision to impose tough restrictions on 99% of England has prompted a furious reaction with Boris Johnson facing a Tory revolt over his post-lockdown plans. More than 55 million people will be placed into Tier 2 and Tier 3 measures when the second national lockdown ends on December 2, meaning mixing between households indoors will effectively be banned for the vast majority of the country.

Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – accounting for little more than 1% of England’s population – face the lightest Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions.

Large swathes of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3, which accounts for 41.5% of the population, or 23.3 million people.

The majority of authorities – including London – will be in Tier 2, which will cover 57.3% of the country, or 32 million people.

Out of those areas to go into Tier 3, only eight of 119 have reported a rise in cases.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs, said the decision would make it “harder” to push the measures through Parliament, while the Daily Mail suggested up to 70 Government backbenchers were prepared to rebel in a vote on the regulations next week.

He said: “By forcing so much of the country into those really tough restrictions, especially places where the rates of infection have been falling to much lower levels, I think the Government has given itself a much harder job.”

In Tier 1, the rule of six applies indoors and outdoors but in Tier 2 there will be a ban on households mixing indoors, and pubs and restaurants will only be able to sell alcohol with a “substantial meal”.

Tier 3 measures mean a ban on households mixing, except in limited circumstances such as in parks.

In these areas, bars and restaurants will be limited to takeaway or delivery services and people will be advised to avoid travelling outside their area. Shops and schools will remain open in all tiers.

Some MPs were left angered after seeing their areas escalated up two tiers compared to their status before the November lockdown.

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox and John Penrose, husband of NHS Test and Trace boss Baroness Dido Harding, criticised the move to place their North Somerset constituencies into Tier 3, having previously only been in Tier 1.

They said the reason used – due to the amount of workers in the area who commute to Bristol which has seen a recent spike in Covid-19 cases – “isn’t right or fair”.

In Kent there was dismay at putting the whole county into Tier 3 when there were discrepancies in the infection rate across the area.

With parts of the county bordering Tier 2 areas, North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale told Sky News he feared people would “skip over the boundary” to go to visit a pub.

The Government has promised to publish an impact assessment of the measures before MPs vote on them on December 1, following complaints economic harm and the knock-on health impacts of restrictions were not being properly considered – a point made by the Covid Research Group formed of lockdown-sceptical Tories.

The Prime Minister, due to visit a science laboratory in Wiltshire on Friday, told a Downing Street press conference that “your tier is not your destiny” and cited the planned extension of mass community testing, as seen in Liverpool, as a possible “escape” from the toughest measures.

A review of the tiers is scheduled for December 16 but the Times reported the Government is not expecting to make any changes until the new year.

Calum Semple, professor of child health and outbreak medicine at Liverpool University, said if people wanted to see their family at Christmas then they had to accept harsher rules.

“People want to have five days of fun over Christmas. If they want that wriggle room, they really have to accept stricter restrictions in the run-up to Christmas,” he told Newsnight.

Despite a planned relaxation of restrictions during the festive period, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty warned the public against hugging and kissing elderly relatives “if you want them to survive to be hugged again”.

In other developments:

– A mass testing centre is being set up at the University of St Andrews in Scotland on Friday to offer students Covid-19 tests ahead of the Christmas holiday.

– The latest figures show a further 498 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Thursday, and there were another 17,555 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

– Just 60.3% of close contacts of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England were reached through the system in the week ending November 18.

Published: 27/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Diego Maradona buried amid outpouring of grief in Argentina
Diego Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people — a stark contrast to earlier in the day when tens of thousands of weeping fans filed past his coffin for hours in an observance that mixed head-of-state-like honours with the chaos of a rowdy stadium.

Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardin Bella Vista cemetery for the final religious ceremony and burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.

Fans waving Argentina flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security. Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it was stopped by traffic.

The earlier viewing at the Argentinian presidential mansion was halted shortly before 6pm, 12 hours after it started, as Maradona’s family wished and the body of the Argentinian icon was taken away for burial, frustrating many who were waiting to pay their respects and causing new tensions at the gates of the cemetery.

Fans, some draped in the national flag, sang soccer anthems as they formed a line that stretched more than 20 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo, where Argentinians gathered to celebrate the Maradona-led triumph in the 1986 World Cup.

But with the time for viewing the coffin at the presidential palace drawing short, police moved to cut off the back end of the crowd, enraging fans who hurled rocks and other objects at officers, who responded with rubber bullets.

The crowd overwhelmed organisers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona’s family to end the public visitation. The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer’s name on a paperboard by the window.

Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona’s fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a soccer stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.

“Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people,” people chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires. The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.

Hundreds of fans blocked entry to the cemetery before the arrival of Maradona’s casket, dancing and chanting as police moved in to open a way. The crowd continued making noise after the final ceremony began.

Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation.

While the viewing bore the hallmarks of a state funeral, with Maradona’s casket laid out in the presidential palace, the atmosphere often was that of a soccer stadium — chanting, singing, pushing and the occasional whiff of alcohol.

His coffin was draped with the Argentina flag and shirts bearing his famed No. 10 from the national team and the Boca Juniors club, with other jerseys tossed around it by passing admirers.

President Alberto Fernandez appeared at midday and placed on the casket a jersey from the Argentinos Juniors team, where Maradona started his career in 1976.

Published: 27/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Full list of Tiers and areas
Here is the full list of Tiers and areas published by the Government

Tier 1: Medium alert

– South East

Isle of Wight

South West

Cornwall

Isles of Scilly

Tier 2: High alert

– North West

Cumbria

Liverpool City Region

Warrington and Cheshire

– Yorkshire

York

North Yorkshire

West Midlands

Worcestershire

Herefordshire

Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin

– East Midlands

Rutland

Northamptonshire

– East of England

Suffolk

Hertfordshire

Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough

Norfolk

Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea

Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes

– London

all 32 boroughs plus the City of London

– South East

East Sussex

West Sussex

Brighton and Hove

Surrey

Reading

Wokingham

Bracknell Forest

Windsor and Maidenhead

West Berkshire

Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton

Buckinghamshire

Oxfordshire

– South West

South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor

Bath and North East Somerset

Dorset

Bournemouth

Christchurch

Poole

Gloucestershire

Wiltshire and Swindon

Devon

Tier 3: Very High alert

– North East

Tees Valley Combined Authority: Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington

North East Combined Authority: Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, County Durham, Northumberland

– North West

Greater Manchester

Lancashire

Blackpool

Blackburn with Darwen

– Yorkshire and The Humber

The Humber

West Yorkshire

South Yorkshire

– West Midlands

Birmingham and Black Country

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull

– East Midlands

Derby and Derbyshire

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire

Leicester and Leicestershire

Lincolnshire

– South East

Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)

Kent and Medway

– South West

Bristol

South Gloucestershire

North Somerset

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Covid-19: Local authorities in England to discover their post-lockdown tiers
The Health Secretary is to set out which tier each local authority in England will fall under after the end of the national lockdown. Matt Hancock will make the announcement in Parliament on Thursday after the Government set out its Covid-19 “winter plan” earlier this week.

Each area will be placed into one of three tiers when lockdown ends on December 2 – but the system has been toughened from the previous regime, meaning more authorities will move into the higher tiers.

Areas which make progress in slowing the spread of the virus could still be moved down a tier before Christmas, however, with the first review of the allocations due to take place by December 16.

On Wednesday night reports suggested there would be few areas in England placed in Tier 1, with The Times reporting parts of eastern England and remote areas in Cornwall and Cumbria are expected to be allocated the lightest measures.

Meanwhile London was expected to go in Tier 2 along with the majority of the country.

Mr Hancock said: “Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice made by people up and down the country, we are able to move out of national lockdown and into more targeted local, tiered restrictions.

“I know for those of you faced with Tier 3 restrictions this will be a particularly difficult time but I want to reassure you that we’ll be supporting your areas with mass community testing and extra funding.

“By following the rules together we can get out of these tough measures.”

The Department of Health said decisions on tier levels would be based on a number of factors, including case detection rates in all age groups and, in particular, amongst the over 60s.

How quickly case rates are rising or falling will also be taken into account, as will local pressure on the NHS, including current and projected capacity.

The final decisions will be made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Covid Operations Committee, the Government said.

Areas placed in Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the Armed Forces to deliver a six-week rapid community testing programme, making use of rapid lateral flow tests which give results within an hour.

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said he hoped the area – which was the first to enter the highest tier last time – would not return to Tier 3 restrictions.

He said: “The progress we’ve made since we were put in Tier 3 is remarkable – we’ve gone from having two areas with infection rates of about 750 per 100k to 180 across the city region.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said it was “more likely than not” his area would be made subject to Tier 3 restrictions.

He said although infection numbers in Greater Manchester were still high, the rates were falling.

He added: “If things continue in this direction at the rate at which we are seeing change in Greater Manchester, I would want to ask the Government for a serious review of Greater Manchester’s position at the first review of tiering arrangements which is scheduled to take place two weeks from now.”

Meanwhile, Lancashire’s council leaders have submitted a proposal to the Government to divide the county into two different tiers when the lockdown ends next week.

A request has been made for Hyndburn, Rossendale, Burnley, Pendle and Preston to go into Tier 3 restrictions while Fylde, Wyre, Lancaster, Chorley, South Ribble, Ribble Valley and West Lancashire would go into Tier 2.

And London mayor Sadiq Khan said it would be the “right and sensible decision” for the capital to be placed in Tier 2, as he warned that Tier 3 would be a “hammer blow” to businesses.

The reimposition of the tier system in England comes as scientists warned easing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic and another lockdown.

The Prime Minister urged the public to “think carefully” over the festive period after it was confirmed that three households will be able to form a Christmas “bubble” from December 23 to 27.

Professor Graham Medley, an expert in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the relaxation of restrictions over the festive period could lead to more people being admitted to hospital and further lockdown measures in the new year.

Meanwhile, Government figures showed a further 696 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday, with the UK total now standing at 56,533.

A further 18,213 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported on Wednesday.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said rules allowing people to meet up at Christmas are likely to be tightened when they are set out on Thursday.

She said: “The expectation should be that the guidance will probably look to tighten around the edges rather than further expand and that will be true with the travel window of opportunity as well – we want to limit that window, not expand it.”

The Welsh Cabinet is also expected to meet to decide whether further restrictions similar to the English tier system will be needed before Christmas, although a decision is not likely to be announced until Friday.

In Northern Ireland, tougher lockdown restrictions will be introduced from Friday, with pubs, restaurants, non-essential retail and close contact services to close for a fortnight.

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub

The world’s lost a legend – Pele leads tributes to Diego Maradona
Pele paid tribute to his fellow all-time great Diego Maradona after the Argentinian’s death at the age of 60, saying: “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.” The Brazilian three-time World Cup winner was often Maradona’s closest competitor in polls to decide the greatest footballer of all time.

And the 80-year-old issued fulsome praise for his fellow South American, writing on his official Twitter account: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend.

“There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

Maradona’s death was confirmed by Argentina’s football association. He had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

He captained his country to World Cup glory in Mexico in 1986, and later led Napoli to two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

Lionel Messi, the greatest Argentinian of the current generation, wrote on Instagram: “A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

“I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”

Argentina eliminated England from the 1986 finals at the quarter-final stage, as Maradona scored twice. The first was a blatant handball – ‘the Hand of God as Maradona described it – and the second a stunning solo effort.

Gary Lineker, who was playing for England that day, tweeted: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.

“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”

Lineker later added on BT Sport: “I played for a Rest of the World side at Wembley, when I was at Barcelona, all the great players like (Michel) Platini on the pitch were all totally in awe of him.

“The first thing he did in the dressing room was sit there in just a pair of shorts, juggling his socks on his left foot for about five minutes.

“Then he went out on the pitch and did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I have even seen on a football pitch.

“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle, when he got there, still juggling, he went ‘bang’ and kicked the ball up as high as he could, then waited.

“It came down, he went ‘bang’ and did it again. He did it 13 times and the most he ever did was walk three paces to it.

“All of us were sitting there saying: ‘that is impossible’.”

European football’s governing body UEFA held minute’s silences before all Wednesday night’s Champions League matches in tribute to Maradona.

Boca Juniors, where Maradona made his name before securing a then world-record transfer to Barcelona in 1982, tweeted: “Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego.”

Asif Kapadia, who directed the 2019 film Maradona, tweeted: “Can’t quite believe DM has gone. Hard to process.

“He always seemed indestructible. I had 10 hours with the man!! I touched his left foot. We did our best to show the world the man, the myth, the fighter he was. The greatest.”

Peter Reid, another member of the England side which suffered at the hand and the left foot of Maradona in 1986, spoke highly of the South American’s incredible footballing gift.

“The second (goal) is a man at the height of his ability and quite simply he is one of the best players to walk the planet,” Reid told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We opted not to man-mark him, thank God I wasn’t given that job. Belgium tried it in the semi-final with Eric Gerets, who was a great player, and he still tore them apart.

“He was one of those players, whatever way you went about, if he was playing well on the day he was very, very difficult to stop.”

Speaking about the second goal, Reid added: “With his balance and his strength he just went through us. It was just one of those things you can’t stop.

“I get asked ‘why didn’t you bring him down?’ and rest assured if I could have got there….I wake up in a cold sweat still thinking about it, and I still can’t get there.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on BT Sport: “There was a banner in Argentina some time ago when it said ‘it doesn’t matter what you have done with your life, it matters what you have done with our lives’.

“I think Maradona would have done in our generation. There are a few incredible players in history, and he is one of them.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who alongside Messi is regarded as one of the game’s greatest current players, also offered his own personal tribute.

The Juventus and Portugal star posted on Twitter: “Today I bid farewell to a friend and the world farewells to an eternal genius.

“One of the best ever, an unmatched magician. Leaves too soon but leaves a boundless legacy and a void that will never be filled. RIP. You will never be forgotten.”

Published: 26/11/2020 by Radio NewsHub


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